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Archive for the ‘Goat Care (and General Farm)’ Category

The youth fiction book that I am writing is coming together nicely.

I am falling in love with the main characters, Delilah and Jasper, two young Nubian goats.

I never dreamed I would write fiction, much less a book intended for children. Before I started the book I found myself thinking about all of the goats that we have raised, all of the kids, and how I have loved farm animals from a very young age, as as far back as I can remember. At that point it became clear to me that I needed to tell my story.

The book is fiction, but it contains a lot of learning tips that children can pick up on, scenes from my own experiences, and it contains fun chapters where a child can wander  through the thoughts and antics of a very young goat.

With only a small story or two that I am still pondering on adding, I’ve begun editing the book.

I will soon announce a deadline. I am excited to place this adventure in the delighted hands of a child. I can see myself as a youth wearing the pages of the book out. My dream is to give that gift to another.

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wild rose hips

Wild Rose Hips

While admiring the berries and fruits I found along the wooded paths during my most recent walk, I also noticed wild rose hips. We are abundant in wild roses in our area. Overlooking the fact that the long stemmed bushes are full of small thorns, which stick to a person’s clothes and legs – ouch, I enjoy their beauty and scent throughout the warmer seasons. I had nearly forgotten the amazing health benefits of  rose hips.

Benefits and uses:

  • high in vitamin C – more than the citrus groups
  • rich in bioflavanoids, pectin, Vitamin E, selenium, manganese, and the B-complex vitamins, trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, sulfur and silicon
  • use in jelly, syrup, wine or tea

Rose hips ripen after the first frost – hence their bright color this season (we’ve had several frosts).

I am gathering the beauties for rose hip tea, and to add to herbal teas that I already have in the pantry. The health benefits are outstanding.

Nature is to be treasured!

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In the half-light, I looked out the window and saw large pieces of white paper strewn about across the back lot. There is no trash here, not a speck. How did that happen?

Last night, as made one last round  through the house, I thought the crickets were chirping louder than normal. Was there a window open? I checked the window seals. No, they were shut.

This morning, as I let the scampering eager dogs out the door, I saw a large green grasshopper (those giant “bugs” that used to scare me as a child) sitting happily next to the mop I laid out yesterday to dry. Good morning, Mr. Grasshopper. Welcome to the beautiful morning that we share!

Then, as the sun continued to rise, I saw what caused the strewing about of paper. Beautiful spider webs, strung from blade to blade, covered with morning dew. Nature made its own form of art…no paper involved.

It truly is a blessing to see the little things.

Mary

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goat milk www.anniesgoathill.com

When the most recent kids were born at Annie’s Goat Hill, I decided to let them camp out in the milk stand area.  Unlike our old barn, which had a separate milk/feed room with a sliding door, I now milk in a penned section of the barn.  A small panel gate separates the milk/feed area from the rest of the barn.

The paneled gate works.  The kids run in and out of the gate smoothly.  They eat their hay and grain without battling the larger goats outside, but then, much to my dislike, so does Caleb, the guard dog.   He devoured the grain intended for my milkers, all of it.  And thank you very much, he got pretty sick from it.

So, I ended up tying a piece of fencing to the gate, leaving enough room for the kids to squeeze through, but not enough room for Caleb.  The power of a farmer – baling twine, and extra pieces of fencing.  We learn to not throw anything out that can later be used to patch something up.

Newborn goat kids eventually discover that the swish-swish sound coming from the milk stand means there is warm milk.  As they become mobile (which doesn’t take long), they end up jumping on the stand, nudging the udder as I milk.  It can be rather disastrous.  So, I eventually rigged up a goat panel in the corner of the milk/feed area to put the kinds in (with hay and grain) until milking is done.  Wa-la, problem resolved.

New kittens have been born and momma cat is begging for warm milk.  She bats at me as I walk past the milk stand.  Her big green eyes seemingly stare into my soul, “You will give me milk!” The batting from momma cat recently started including claws.  Ouch! So, now, because I cannot contain a cat inside of a goat panel, I am forced into a new work-around to keep myself from injury-by-cat.  The routine involves stopping and staring her down before I proceed to the milk stand.  With deliberation, I say the words, “You will not swipe me with those needles.  You will be patient!” So far, so good.  She doesn’t look happy.  But she is registering my words, and I am no longer suffering from cat scratches.  She still gets her portion of warm milk.

Another part of the daily routine is to carry kittens to their feed dish.  Apparently, they want to eat kibble with the big-wigs, but I want to make sure they eat well, at the “kitten feeding station.”  You should see my arms lined with kittens as “we” walk to the aluminum feed pan.  Which, by the way, is now being demolished after I leave the area, by none-other than young goats.  I can just see them now, behind the closed barn door, passing the pan from kid to kid, “This is a fun and noisy object!”

Well, I am out of here for now.  Heading back down to the barn because…I forgot to untie and release the kids from their paneled corner! All of this love just to make a bar of soap.  It is worth every moment.  Trust me.

 

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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goat farm www.anniesgoathill.com

Farm scenario:  Look into the goat pasture and see 1) remnants of a feed sack (oh no, I didn’t shut the feed room gate last night), 2) a dead goat (I hope not), 3) a sleeping guard dog.

You may raise livestock or other farm animals, and if you do, you are going to totally understand where I am coming from with this.  A person would only hope that they would get used to this phenomena, but I am now thinking that it will never happen, at least not as long as I care for animals.

Our LGD (livestock guard dog) is a Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, and something else, mix.  He is a fantastic guard dog, so fantastic that he barks at moving clouds in the night sky (so we think).  He appears to be awake all night, on supreme active duty.

When morning comes, the guard dog goes flat.  I mean, absolutely flush to the ground flat.  Despite my efforts to not have a heart attack, it can be startling.

Once I see his Royal Flatness horizontally deflated, unless I see buzzards flying overhead, or until I get closer to see the rise and fall of his chest – which is slight in his deep sleep, I do not know if he is dead or alive.

Is this my pay-back for penning him, the then young guard dog, in with the dams (mother goats) that had the strongest maternal instincts, in an effort to train him to not playfully nip at the kid goat’s legs?

Have your nap, Caleb, I’ll now reach for the cup of herbal tea to retrieve a renewed calm to my blissful morning.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps…where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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www.anniesgoathill.com

We have had our share of electric outages, but who hasn’t?

The most current outage happened before a storm came through, three evenings ago.

We were watching television, relaxing, and noticed that a fan had shut off by itself.  No lights or clocks were blinking.  Minutes later the power went out and it did not return for 36 hours.

We waited until the following morning to drag out the generator.  In the meantime, my cell phone went dead because I could not find the charger for my truck, and I could not remember if I had bought one for my newest phone.  You believe me, right? I thought so.

So, thanks to our ever-trusting generator, 12 hours later we had one fan, a refrigerator, a hot plate, and a television.  And I had enough power to charge up my phone and my laptop.  We had heavy-duty extension cords running through the windows, across the floors.

It was crude and rude, and then I said, “We are camping out!”

I could not believe how quiet the first night was, before we decided we had to beat the 95 degree heat with a fan.  We experienced complete darkness, and not a sound.  Not a bird, not an insect.  It was amazing.  Nearly awesome.  We tend to forget how loud the hum of a refrigerator is, or even a motor on a laptop.

Late Saturday evening, we were startled by a honk in front of our house.  Our neighbor was driving door to door, Paul Revere style – less the horse, announcing that he just got off the phone with the water company.  We were not going to have county water much longer.  Apparently the pump stations had lost power too.

So, it was 95 degrees, we had no power, and we were soon not going to have water.

I filled my large soaking tub with water, thinking I could at least dip water out for a few days if necessary for general bathing and other purposes.  I filled all of the water containers (empty water jugs, troughs and buckets for the goats).  I kept thinking, “If everyone is doing this, we will soon drain what is left.”  But, then I thought, “First come, first serve.”  Was that bad? Perhaps.

The animals were my concern.  How were we going to keep them from dehydration in the oppressive heat? Could they survive for the predicted 3-5 days without a drop of water? I decided then to take it day by day, moment by moment.  I figured we were not the only farmer facing the water issue, and we would somehow co-op if conditions became dire.

I learned later that evening that a large generator was being wired into the water plant, and the water, which was already down to a trickle, would be restored by morning.  What a blessing!

The following morning we had full water pressure.  But it was still muggy, and the power company was reporting an additional 3-5 days of outages.  Bleh!

Lo and behold, the bedroom clock began flashing.  I said to my husband, “We have power!” His words, “I don’t believe it, turn on the light.”  Funny, huh? Yes, we had power.

As I began reclaiming the house…which was accomplished by turning on the central air conditioning (getting the humidity out), shutting the windows, rolling up the heavy extension cords, guess what I found? My cell phone charger, in plain view.  Right where I left it.

What did I learn? Be prepared.  Know where your phone charger is, and keep it fully charged, especially when you know storms are approaching.  Know where your shoes are, better yet, put them on.  Have candles on hand, or some type of lantern.  Keep your generator in an accessible area (if you own one).  Remember batteries for your flash light, or even for a radio if you have one.  I am not sure who has battery operated radios these days.  I could be wrong on that count!  I get all of my news from the computer, not from the dramatics on television.

We lost very little milk during the outage.  Our kitchen freezer was full and never thawed out at all.  The freezer in Annie’s Red Barn studio was not so full.  All of the milk stored in it had to be discarded.  I knew to not open the freezers until power had been restored, and it worked for the most part.  Tips:  the more full the freezer, the less thawing occurs, and refrain from opening the door as much as possible.

We are still battling with some issues, like poor cell phone signal, and a very poor internet signal, along with missed email here and there.  But we are working our way back into full business at hand!

What else did I learn? Camping out, that term helped my spirits.  Taking it moment by moment, know there is always a solution.  Keep the faith.

Thank goodness for good health, and thank goodness for our safety.  What more could a person need? Some were not so fortunate.

I went a bit over with my word count here…yawn.  Are you still with me?

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Blackberries

I found a few edibles on the farm nature walk today.  The wild blackberries are everywhere, however, they are small.  The larger berries are 3 or 4 feet back, into thicker parts of the woods.  I don’t dare get off the beaten path.  I like nature, I do not like slithery crawling things.  But then…blackberry jam would be awfully good.

Apple Tree

Apple Tree

I found a huge apple tree.  Being that the apples are small, I thought it might be a crab apple tree.  But the apples are not tiny and round.  It will be interesting to see what develops through late summer and fall, or earlier, if the apples are a golden delicious type.  I apologize for the poor photo!

Lazy Susan

This week, Lazy Susan wildflowers are blooming.  They are mixing in with the Oxetail Daisy.  Very pretty!

The Park

We call this area our park.  It is about 10 degrees cooler in the shade.  You believe that, right? It is true!  There are no people, no animals, nothing but nature in our “park.”  Yes, we mow it, and hope to put a few benches in place someday.

The Path

Another cool spot down a path (on the way to The Park).  Really, it is a lot cooler in the shade of the thick trees.  I love the old twisted trunk in this photo.

So, there are my finds from this week’s restorative nature walk.  I hope to find more herbs and medicinal plants on future walks.

Glad you joined me!

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boer and dairy goats www.anniesgoathill.com

Annie’s Goat Hill was not something that I planned out on paper.  The farm and the soap company evolved from a passion for natural things, and from a strong life-long love for animals.

I am excited to share with you the featured article that I wrote for the Orscheln Farm & Home Blog.

Each time I write my story I realize how much I have accomplished, and I find that I am excited to share as much as I can.

Thank you to Orscheln Farm & Home, my hope is that the article helps to promote positive inspiration!

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It is (nearly) summer.  The spring mud season is gone! So, I am going to start a round of Annie’s Farm Photos for those of you that enjoy seeing the country life.

Tiny Tot

The caption should really read Not Spoiled.  She was.  She was the tiniest kid born to Carmella, her full-blood nubian dairy goat mother, about 4 seasons ago.  Tiny Tot lived with us in the house until it was warmth enough for her to face the barn.  Her hooves were the size of my thumbnail.   Tiny Tot is part boer goat, but we still milk her occasionally after she has kids.

The Buck Pen

The buck pen and one of our young boer bucks.

A Path

We have several paths, none all that long, some longer than others.  To me, they are just enough to enjoy.

I will be posting a rather “longish” video that I took last fall while walking one of the paths.  If you like walks in the woods, you’ll love the video!

Hope you enjoyed the farm visit today!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted  Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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We have a couple of small herb gardens in raised beds.  Some of the herbs were transplanted from our former farm, some were young plants purchased last year.  I am totally amazed at how fast the surviving plants have grown and some are already in bloom!

Thyme

Oregano

Bee Balm

Once Thyme reaches 8-9 inches tall it can be trimmed, which encourages more branching out.   Thyme smells wonderful in the house when I hang it to dry.  I later use it in recipes, especially in poultry dishes.

Oregano is also great dried.  I am hoping to have enough tomatoes in the garden this year to can and freeze, and later use the Oregano in homemade Italian sauces.

Last but not least, the Bee Balm (also know as Wild Bergamot).  Bee Balm is a member of the mint family. It can be used as a medicinal herb, combined in a tea with Valerian and other herbs that promote relaxation.  I look forward to it.  But first, I believe I’ll let it flower this year.  It is a one year old plant that didn’t do so well last summer.  As tall as the plant is getting, I cannot wait to see (and post photos of) the flowered plant after it reaches 3-4′ tall!

I also have one tiny live sprig of true Lavender in a raised bed, not pictured.  The Lavender did not hardily take to the transplant from the old farm.  Being that I have one healthy sprig, something tells me there are roots, and that more of the plant will surface.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Where you can Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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